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OSHA issues new rule on confined spaces at construction sites

There are many things a construction worker could end up doing as part of their job. For one, sometimes, work tasks at construction sites involve working in confined spaces.

Safety risks can sometimes arise in connection to working in a confined space. Some examples of risks that construction workers could potentially face in connection to confined space work tasks are: asphyxiation risks, electric shock risks, toxic substance exposure risks and explosion risks.

Thus, when workplace accidents occur in relation to confined spaces at construction work sites, construction workers who are performing tasks in such spaces could end up being severely injured. Such injuries can make it so a worker needs substantial medical treatment and can have major effects on a worker’s functional abilities and work future. Attorneys can help construction workers and other workers who have been hurt in work accidents involving confined spaces with seeking out just compensation for the effects of their injuries through the workers’ compensation system.

Given the great harm that confined space work accidents can cause to construction workers, preventing such accidents and protecting construction workers who do work tasks in confined spaces are two very important goals. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is issuing a new rule aimed at helping promote these two goals.

This new federal rule, once it takes effect, will require construction companies to do a variety of things when it comes to their work sites that have confined spaces, including:

  • Frequently assess the safety of such work sites.
  • Continuously monitor for safety hazards involving the confined spaces. 
  • Share safety information regarding the confined spaces.
  • Provide workers with appropriate safety training.  

This new rule is scheduled to become effective on Aug. 3. The rule is aimed at putting construction workers at around the same level protection-wise as manufacturing and industrial workers when it comes to confined spaces. Officials estimate that around 800 deaths and serious injuries will be prevented per year by this new rule once it takes effect. 

What opinions do you have about this new federal rule? What overall impacts do you think it will have on the safety of construction sites here in California and in the rest of the nation? Do you think it will help make things safer for construction workers who work in confined spaces?

Source: U-T San Diego, “Workers in confined spaces to come under protection rule,” May 1, 2015